George Lucas’ Star Wars creation is one of the most complex, long-standing, and beloved franchises. The way he masterfully incorporated realism into the fantasy-based world brought a fresh perspective into the hearts of viewers everywhere.
Of course, when a show runs for so long, it often gets divided into various parts. Star Wars in particular has two major divisions: Star Wars Canon and Star Wars Legends, both of which spark discord among fans.
The major question that arises is which division is better, Canon or Legends. This is a complex question that will be answered throughout this article, so keep reading as we dive in.
Table of Contents
What is Star Wars Canon?
To begin, what exactly is Star Wars canon?
Canon is Lucasfilms’ first collection of films, screenplays, and novelizations. To fully grasp the concept of Canon, the Star Wars franchise should be looked at as a whole. It should be viewed as a collection of “past events” that have been documented by different individuals.
Naturally, because these events of galactic history are told from the perspective of different authors, some information would be more reliable than others. Additionally, there may be some information that one specific author may have access to where another would not have had that same access.
This is where Canon comes in. It’s sort of like the core films that jump-started the Star Wars saga. These films served as a base point and a guide for where future films should begin, which ensures the continuity of the franchise.
What’s even more important is that each one of the Canon books was deemed by Lucas Licensing to be an authentic part of Star Wars history.
Therefore, each film that is adapted from these books can technically be deemed as being Canon because it would depict a display of the official galactic history.
On April 25, 2014, there were six official Canon films, but to date, there are eleven. They are as follows: the first nine episodes of the Skywalker Saga; as well as the one-off films Rogue One and Solo.
What is Star Wars Legends?
Previously known as the Expanded Universe, Legends encompasses every newly adapted film and background storylines that are outside of George Lucas’ core films. The Legends Chronicles is made up of novelizations, comic books, galactic lore, folk tales, and merchandise.
On April 25, 2014, after the six official Canon films were released, Lucasfilm announced that the Star Wars: Expanded Universe would be rebranded as Legends. Because of this name change, Legends mainly encompassed the films of the Expanded Universe, most of which were created before 2014.
The new era of the franchise was kicked off with Star Wars Rebels and the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, which are now considered Canon.
The previously printed books under the moniker of Star Wars Expanded Universe were simply rebranded under the new title of Legends.
Star Wars: Canon vs. Legends
Now, to compare the two is somewhat like comparing apples to oranges, given how different they are.
To put it simply, “Canon” is anything considered an official part of the Star Wars universe, whereas “Legends” is anything not considered an official part of Star Wars.
On the one hand, Star Wars Canon essentially laid the foundation for the franchise. It covered and developed the history of the galaxy, thus ensuring that every aspect of the ancient Star Wars universe is cemented into the timeline of the franchise.
Then there is Star Wars Legends, which is a spin-off of Canon. From what we can gather from the previous name, Expanded Universe, the Legends saga would cover more of what the Canon did not.
When Lucasfilm became the property of Disney, the distinction between Canon and Legends became a bit more complex, so stay with me here.
After the acquisition by Disney, Legends and Canon became two completely different entities. They were not interconnected as they had previously been, nor were they some sort of multiverse derivation of the Star Wars universe.
Although Disney is now involved, Star Wars is still technically the intellectual property of Lucasfilm. Canon now includes any ‘new’ film that is released, in addition to the original eleven, whereas Legends incorporates everything in the Expanded Universe.
These included the universe’s lore, mythology, comics, books, games, and anything else that was considered non-canon under the Expanded Universe.
Are the Star Wars Movies Canon or Legends?
As confusing as it may be to keep track, we can deduce that there are eleven main Canon films; the Original, Prequel, and Sequel Trilogies, as well as two independent films, Rogue One and Solo.
A significant number of the Expanded Universe films are now written off as non-Canon Legends. To some, this meant that Lucasfilm would be tasked with creating a post-Original timeline for the third time.
However, after being taken over by Disney, the vast majority of the work produced after April 25, 2014, has been deemed to be Canon. This is in addition to the already established films.
Is Star Wars Canon Better Than Legends?
To preface, the decision of which is better is a matter of personal preference. That said, there seems to be a general consensus that currently, Legends is better than Canon.
This is because post-Disney Star Wars has incorporated George Lucas’ original films into the Canon saga, whereas most of the films from the Expanded Universe are now placed under the bracket of Legends.
Under Disney, it appears as though all newer films produced are being put in the bracket of Canon.
Ergo, the new “Legends” are deemed to be higher quality as well as having a more expansive array of content. Legends have a lot of fan-made lore and seem to have more continuity. This makes the timeline easier to follow as a result.
On the other hand, the new “Canon” has involved the newer films, and many fans think that this has caused the films to lose the thing that once made them great.
In essence, all the hard work and heavy thought put behind the original eleven Canon films became a bit lost after the switch to new ownership.
Star Wars is one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises out there. Whether you’re a casual watcher or a die-hard fan, it’s still more enjoyable to view the timeline and place certain films into their respective boxes.
Originally, Canon involved most films that were written by George Lucas himself, to set up the historical elements of the franchise. Legends, on the other hand, were more of the spin-off films and extra tidbits that added to galactic history.
Unfortunately, when Star Wars came under new ownership, the timeline became more convoluted. Legends still encompassed all the content that was previously the Expanded Universe.
However, Canon changed a bit in that it had the newly produced films added to the original eleven.
This, added to the fact that some individuals enjoy the mythology of the universe and what it adds to the viewing experience, means many fans hold Legends in higher regard than Canon.